Last week my pastor was kind enough to listen as I processed a bit about the guilt I experience at times around not working a formal job so that I am free to obey God’s direct instruction to pursue a career in writing. I told him that working as a Christian writer has felt more and more like going into full-time ministry, which doesn’t exactly pay the bills at first. I shared how I sometimes feel responsible for the negative impact of my obedience on my family.
He listened as I explained that when I quit the job I’d been working in non-profit management for 8 years, I gave up a predictable income. It’s been three months since my last paycheck and today we listed our house on the real estate market. Our big, beautiful house that we’ve lived in for four years… That we prayed for 5 years... That we’ve ministered in more than any other house. We had a homeless family live with us for nine months, we hosted countless parties, training meetings, dream sessions, and other events. We’ve walked with neighbors through some of the most intense battles I have witnessed in my adult life. This has been a good house that we’ve used for His purposes. This is where I've built this incredible community around digging for the Divine!
I told my pastor that at some point almost every single day I become overwhelmed with both gratitude and guilt when I picture my husband sitting at his desk in the less-than-ideal position he’s found himself in while I stay home and pursue my dreams. I told him that I feel bad when my kids have to be told, “No," and “Not this time," far more frequently than when I was working a formal job. And now we’ve decided to move. (We do have other motivators like proximity to schools and church, but financial responsibility is at the top of the list.) My obedience has become our obedience.
To this, my pastor responded,
“When the disciples decided to follow Jesus did they have to give anything up?”
It was such an obvious question that I paused to make sure I heard him correctly.
“Well, yeah. Every time.”
And then he moved on to the next topic.
Point made. Point taken.
Suddenly the guilt lifted. Realizing that I’m walking the well-worn ancient path of the disciples brought not only relief but JOY! There is so much joy in obedience. I don’t need to feel bad about what we’re giving up to follow Him. God told me to write a book. Obeying that instruction led to this blog and Collected and other opportunities. It has connected me to you, dear reader.
I’ve been forced to grow in ways I never would have otherwise. I’ve gained far more than I’ve lost in this process of sacrificial obedience. This journey has deepened my family’s faith as we’ve seen Him helping us up to this point.
In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel had just led the Israelites to repentance and gathered them to confess their sins corporately and declare their trust in the one true God. They’d been looking to false gods for their deliverance from their enemy, the Philistines. Assembling God’s people was a radical risk because as soon as their great enemy heard they were assembled, they prepared to attack. Samuel told the people to not be afraid and to keep crying out to God in repentance. Meanwhile, he prepared a sacrifice and cried out to the Lord on behalf of all Israel and God heard his cry. The Lord caused a thunderclap so loud that it sent the Philistine army into a panic and the Israelites were able to chase after them and overtake their enemy, just like God had promised! When it was over, Samuel set up a monument to remember the miraculous occasion. He called it Ebenezer, which means stone of remembrance, noting that the Lord had helped them up to that point.
There was a point when I let the enemy convince me to put tremendous pressure on myself to figure out how to make money. God released me from that bondage when He reminded me that He is our provider. I had to confess my self-reliance and put away a few idols just like the Israelites did that day described in 1 Samuel 7.
I’m setting up my own Ebenezer of sorts today, the one year anniversary of my launch. As I look back, I see all the ways God has intervened on our behalf in the last year of choosing to follow Him in a very risky way. I see all of His miraculous provision of community, support, and supply for our every need. I want our family to remember His faithfulness in the midst of sacrifice.
With our eyes on His provision and a promise on our lives as we walk in obedience, nothing we’re “giving up” even feels like a sacrifice anymore. As things get real with moving from this house, obedience feels more like moving closer to the next miracle.
What have you given up as you’ve chosen to follow Jesus and obey His instructions in your life?
Are you able to trust that anything that is lost will be restored in greater measure? If not, you should definitely read this.
Thank you for reading the words God has given me this last year. Thank you for your comments, emails, and shares on social media. As I charge into the next year of this adventure with more determination than ever, I’d covet your prayers, support, and even more comments and shares on social media. Growing this community is my top priority as I trust God to keep telling me to do the next first thing.
Let’s keep digging!
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